Penistone Paramount: The traditional Yorkshire picture house which still has its own historic organ
The people of Penistone are fortunate that they have a traditional picture house, owned by the local authority but run by Penistone Town Council.
The Penistone Paramount has been at the heart of the community for more than a century. It opened in 1914 when it was at the cutting edge of technology and it is still pulling in the crowds 109 years later.
Kevin Grunill is one of the people who helps keep this authentic attraction up and running with a unique form of cinematic entertainment - a mammoth Compton Cinema Organ, which has over 1,000 organ pipes located in a purpose-built area under the stage.
The organ can produce sounds ranging from a string orchestra to a dance band, as well as more traditional organ sounds.
In 1999, he formed The Penistone Cinema Organ Trust and is heavily involved with the "4 manual Compton” that once graced Birmingham’s Paramount/Odeon Cinema but is now installed in the Penistone Paramount theatre in South Yorkshire, where it is used on a regular basis for film and concert events.
He said: “It’s a fascinating place. We get older people in who are delighted to see a proper old cinema with an organ - one of only a handful in working cinemas throughout the U.K. These audience members bring younger people who also seem enthralled by it, having never encountered or experienced one before.
"We are very fortunate to have this building and organ, which has attracted recognition not only here but as far afield as the USA and Australia. We had a silent film showing recently and it always goes down well. It captures a bit of cinema magic from the old days.”
The cinema showed The Hunchback of Notre Dame, from 1923. Donald MacKenzie, one of the world’s finest cinema organists, performed too. He is resident organist at the Odeon at Leicester Square in London.
The Penistone Paramount was built as the Assembly Hall for Penistone in 1914. It is still owned by Barnsley Council but operated by Penistone Town Council, and run by a number of dedicated staff and volunteers.
The cinema is also home to the Mighty Compton Paramount Cinema Organ. It is owned and maintained by the volunteers of the Penistone Cinema Organ Trust, led by Mr Grunill.
The mighty Compton Cinema Organ is featured in special shows on the second Saturday of November and December. Its next presentation is on Saturday November 11 at 2.30pm and is a tribute to the music of the war years called Spirit of the Blitz.
It is a step back in time, featuring Andy Eastwood performing his tribute to George Formby - and using Formby’s actual Ukulele.
There are also songs from Vera Lynn and Gracie fields sung by Maggie O’Hara and star organist Michael Wooldridge showcasing the Compton organ. Tickets are £15 and can from the Penistone Paramount.